Family’s joy as forgotten name is at last added to mining memorial

From left; John Watson, James Watson Sandy Watson, James Addison.
From left; John Watson, James Watson Sandy Watson, James Addison.

A monument to all those who lost their lives working at a Dysart coal mine has been corrected to add the name of a man who had been mistakenly left off.

John Watson died in 1945 after an accident at the Frances Colliery, which was one of the biggest employers in the area for generations of Kirkcaldy workers.

The monument, which is at the end of Edington Place, lists the names of those lost over the years, in remembrance of just how dangerous the job was.

It was recently discovered that John’s name wasn’t among those carved into the block, but this week his family spoke of their happiness at seeing the mistake corrected.

His son, James (89) was present this week as his father’s name was etched into the monument.

“I’m glad his name is on the monument now. I’m quite happy about it,” he said.

The mining accident occurred when John was injured by the drivebelt on some machinery.

James said: “My dad had been in the Home Guard and he wore the ir trousers. They think something got caught and it drew him right in. His right arm and his right leg were taken off, and he died in hospital.

“I was in Thornton at the time. I was told he was in hospital, but when I got to the house they said he had died.”

Despite losing his father to the mine, astonishingly; James took up a job at the same pit, aged 15 soon after.

“It was tough,” he said. “But jobs at that time were scarce. I just went and spoke to the manager and I managed to get an apprenticeship.”

Sandy Watson is Jim’s nephew, and he said the family had been pushing to rectify the mistake as soon as they had discovered the omission.

“I just realised this year when my cousin told me. That was when I made it my aim to get something done.

“We got in touch with the Dysart Trust and councillor Ian Cameron to see what we could do about it.

“I’m just glad his name is getting put on it after all these years.

“It was a really dangerous job, and so many people lost their lives in the industry.

“It was a hard life, and in those days it was basically one of the few jobs you could get.

“I worked at Seafield myself.”

Councillor Cameron said he wished the mistake could have been fixed sooner, but added that the main thing was the Watsons could see that their family member’s name was where it belonged.

“I’m really pleased that we have John Watson’s name on the monument.

“A lot of workers were lost over the years.

“It’s something that we can’t forget, because as we move through this period of business models that use zero-hours contracts and things like that, trade unionism should be seeing an upsurge of people supporting.

“It’s important that we refer back to the past when there was a strong workers movement because we need people working together to help each other.

“Although it’s in the past it’s echoes to now, and we should reflect on people who lost their lives to provide the society that we all benefit from today.”